The Luck of the Irish...Or At Least People With Irish Names
November 18, 2018, 10:14 PM
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With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 11-0, from the Chicago Sun-Times:

He ran for judge, lost, changed parties, took Irish name, won Cook County race

Phillip Spiwak lost a judge’s race as a Republican. But he won after changing parties to Democrat and changing his name to Shannon P. O’Malley.

Abigail Blachman | Injustice Watch

… Irish-sounding names have long given Cook County judicial candidates an electoral edge. It also might not have hurt that O’Malley’s first name is gender-neutral in a year when Democratic women won elections up and down the ballot. …

He won by nearly 2,300 votes over Republican Daniel Fitzgerald despite failing to get the recommendations of bar associations after declining to submit information about his qualifications. …

“Daniel Fitzgerald” is clearly lacking in sufficient Vitamin I for Cook County politics. I suggest he change his name to “Clancy X. MacFitzgerald.”

In 2010, Albert Klumpp did a study that found judicial candidates with Irish- and female-sounding names in Cook County had an advantage, particularly in primaries or retention votes. But Klumpp says it’s more likely that O’Malley won not because of switching names but because he switched parties.

Poor Albert Klumpp might have a much better job, such as Cook County Recorder of Deeds, if only he weren’t named “Albert Klumpp,” which sounds like the fat kid in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, maybe, Aloysius Kelly?

… Candidates in Cook County changing their names to Irish-sounding names happened often enough that the Illinois legislature passed a law requiring that a candidate’s old name also be listed on the ballot if the name change was made within three years before the election.

I’m reminded of the conversation in The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh between two Englishmen in 1940s Hollywood:

‘How are things at Megalo [Movie Studios]?’ asked Sir Ambrose.

‘Greatly disturbed. We are having trouble with Juanita del Pablo,’ [says Sir Francis Hinsley, a publicist at Megalo].

‘”Luscious, languid and lustful”?’

‘Those are not the correct epithets. She is—or rather was—”Surly, lustrous and sadistic.” I should know because I composed the phrase myself. It was a “smash-hit”, as they say, and set a new note in personal publicity.

‘Miss del Pablo has been a particular protégée of mine from the first. I remember the day she arrived. Poor Leo bought her for her eyes. She was called Baby Aaronson then—splendid eyes and a fine head of black hair. So Leo made her Spanish. He had most of her nose cut off and sent her to Mexico for six weeks to learn Flamenco singing. Then he handed her over to me. I named her. I made her an antifascist refugee. I said she hated men because of her treatment by Franco’s Moors. That was a new angle then. It caught on. …”

‘And now there’s been a change of policy at the top. We are only making healthy films this year to please the League of Decency. So poor Juanita has to start at the beginning again as an Irish colleen. … She’s working ten hours a day learning the brogue and to make it harder for the poor girl they’ve pulled all her teeth out. …

‘I’ve spent three days trying to find a name to please her. She’s turned everything down. Maureen—there are two here already; Deirdre—no one could pronounce it; Oonagh—sounds Chinese; Bridget—too common.

Off topic, but I just noticed that the basic idea for the famous scene in the Coens’ Hail, Caesar! of an English director trying to teach a cowboy actor a drawing room accent is from the 1965 movie adaptation of The Loved One with John Gielgud, as Sir Francis, trying to instruct Dusty Acres how to speak like James Bond.

The 1965 The Loved One, with a screenplay by Terry Southern that’s kind of a cross between Dr. Strangelove and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, is a notoriously Not Good movie, but I wonder how many more rudiments of good ideas could be mined from its bulk?

For example, as I pointed out a few years ago, Billy Wilder’s famous Sunset Boulevard started out as an adaptation of The Loved One (the 1948 novel, not its 1965 movie adaptation), but the studio couldn’t get Waugh to sell the rights, so Wilder switched to an original story with one scene in common, the man from the animal mortuary bit.

Waugh would likely have been better off selling the rights so Wilder could film the adaptation than 15 years later so Tony Richardson could shoot it.

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